Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (14)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 14

Among the 16 competitors were several of Sydney's best amateur and professional players. Included in the list was Miss Ruby Roberts ... She succeeded (says the "Sydney Morning Herald") by defeating four strong players, in winning the final round. Her victory was loudly acclaimed by the crowded house...She is about 22 years of age, and her style of play is more than usually graceful. - BILLIARDS. (1913, March 17). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 6. Retrieved December 22, 2023, from

Dec 14. Had my usual practice during the morning and rested all the afternoon Sherrick came to dinner, we had quite a large party and afterwards we went for a drive in Sherrick’s car. Mrs Norman sat in front with the driver and Mum, Sherrick and myself sat in the back while Mr Keddle sat on the floor. We were all in high spirits and had a great deal of fun, it was a glorious moonlight night, almost as bright as day. We sang all the way to a little native village at the bazaar and bought some fruit and joss sticks. When we arrived, the natives surrounded our car and yabbered away in their own language, pointed to the big lamps (I don’t think they could have seen many cars before). Forgot to mention that most of the cars had hoods so that at night they could be let down for coolness and it was really lovely driving along the country roads and to get all the soft breeze after the dreadful heat of the day. When we came back to the car, after visiting the bazaar, we found the natives still looking at it. They watched us get in and when our driver started the car it made such a noise and smoke came out of the exhaust at the back. Well, you should have seen those natives scatter. I think they thought we were the devil, we did laugh to see them running in all directions.

joss sticks
Joss Sticks via Wikimedia Commons

On the way home Sherrick sat on the floor and being fat it was rather a tight fit but he was so jolly that we had a lot of fun. Arrived home about midnight, after a very enjoyable evening. I had found the mosquitos very troublesome and although the beds had nets over them, I always seemed to get one in with me. My arms had been rather badly bitten and I had tried all kinds of ointments etc. So before going to bed I suggest to Mum that we burn some of the joss sticks, which we did and when Sambo came into our room and saw the burning he screamed and made quite a fuss. I don’t know what he thought about us for burning them but after that he would do anything for me. Anyhow, they certainly kept the mosquitoes away that night.

(Dec 15) Sherrick called about noon and had a game with me, the billiard room at Raffles being in the basement. While we were playing, Mrs R called to tell me that they had made arrangements for me to go to Sumatra with them the next day. Mum was very upset on hearing that I could not take her with me. I hated leaving her behind but could not help myself. Mr and Mrs Norman and Sherrick promised me they would look after her and not let her get lonely. That night the Normans gave me send-off party. They were great comedians, had been on the stage at one time so they dressed in fancy dress and sang comic songs. We had a great night and very merry supper.

(Sat Dec 16) I had to rise early and finish my packing. While waiting for the Roberts to call for me, we sat on our balcony. I saw Sherrick pass in a gharry, he put his head out of the window and waved to me. Then, he stopped the Gharry and sent the wallah to the hotel with a letter for me. It was sealed and I wondered what could be the matter. When I opened it I did laugh. It contained a picture of an old woman peeling onions with the tears streaming down her face. Underneath he had written “goodbye beloved”. He was always up to tricks. Mum would not come to the jetty to see me off as she said it made her miserable. I knew the Normans and Sherrick would look after her for me so I did not feel quite so bad at leaving her alone. We had to take a sampan (a small canoe) from the jetty to the ship and it was a rather rough crossing. Also, we had rather a rough time getting off the sampan on to the gangway as the boat was swaying and I hate climbing up the gangway up the side of the ship, but we arrived safely and watched our luggage being hauled up.

Mangosteens via Wikimedia Commons

We left Penang by the Dutch ship “Merkus” at 1pm. We were the only passengers so had all our meals on deck. I thought I would starve as there was only “Rice Taffel”. I don’t know how it is spelt but that is as near as I can get to the pronunciation. It is supposed to be a wonderful dish but personally I did not care for it. The Captain suggested that I should taste the Mangosteens, a fruit something like our passionfruit in appearance, slightly large but with the same purple skin. On cutting it open I found it like an orange inside with sections, only white. You break the sections off and inside each section there is a small nut which of course is too hard to eat but the white flesh is delicious. The only thing I could compare it to was ice cream. They were so nice and cool that I ate too many. We had a very rough crossing and ran into a dreadful storm. So what with too many Mangosteens, rough seas, stuffy cabin (we had no fans) I was very sick. I would have been alright if I could have slept on deck but Mrs R would not do it and I didn’t like to go up on my own as some of the men were sleeping on deck. I had a rotten night and was not sorry when we entered the river early next morning. Got up and went on deck.

It was lovely going up the river to Delhi where we arrived about 6am, had breakfast on board. Meanwhile a young man came on board and said that Mr Maclean had sent him to attend to our luggage as he was afraid we may have some trouble with the customs but he fixed everything up for us. Left Delhi by train at 8.20am, such funny trains, they had a row of arm chairs down each side and you sat facing each other. There was not much to be seen in the way of scenery except jungle.

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